Buying or selling a house is a big undertaking under normal circumstances, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. With economic impacts and the uncertainty that accompanies day-to-day life, Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments and companies have implemented a number of COVID-19 relief measures to help soften the financial blow.
We’ve compiled a list of some pre-existing and newly announced programs and incentives intended to assist current homeowners, buyers and sellers, along with some links to further inform anyone seeking some COVID-19 relief.
COVID-19 Relief Measures
Federal Government Pledges Up To $52 Billion in Direct Support to Canadian Workers and Businesses
On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses during this challenging time. On March 25, an emergency federal bill received royal assent to increase that amount to $52 billion, including support for workers unable to do their job due to Coronavirus.
Mortgage Payment Deferral Programs
Many homeowners who’s employment and income have been interrupted due to COVID-19 are struggling to make their mortgage payments. In response to this, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools that can assist homeowners experiencing financial hardship at this time.
In addition to this, a number of Canadian’s large banks will be allowing mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months as part of their measures to help customers who may be struggling with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Tweet from the president of the Canadian Bankers Association, RBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC and National Bank are the banks that are offering these deferrals. We encourage you to talk to your bank if you are under any sort of financial strain.
Bank of Canada Lowering Rates
The Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate has been on a downward trend recently. In its latest scheduled interest rate announcement on March 4, the Bank cut its rate from 1.75 to 1.25 per cent. The Bank followed up with an unscheduled announcement on March 16, announcing a further reduction in its key interest rate by a further 50 basis points to 0.75 per cent. On March 27, the Bank again cut its rate by another 50 basis points, to 0.25 per cent, with a goal of bolstering economic activity and keeping inflation low and stable.
First Time Home Buyer Incentives
The First Time Home Buyer Incentive was implemented in September 2019 to help qualified first-time homebuyers reduce their monthly mortgage payments without adding to their financial burdens. The incentive is a shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada and offers a number of different options for first-time homebuyers.
Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP)
The Government of Canada implemented measures intended to bolster the financial system through the launch of its Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). The government is prepared to purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through CMHC, increased from the original $50 billion announced on March 16 as part of the Emergency Response Act. This will allow stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders that will help ensure lending to continue to Canadian consumers and businesses.
Property Tax Deferrals
Some Canadian cities are allowing property tax deferrals, such as Toronto, Ottawa, Grand Prairie and more, while other cities are considering similar action. These decisions are being made at the municipal level and things are changing daily. We recommend visiting your municipality online to determine if your upcoming payment can be put on hold without repercussion.
Hydro Pricing Reductions
Ontario is eliminating mid-peak and on-peak electricity rates giving residents who have been forced to stay home due to COVID-19 the lowest rate available (off-peak) all day for 45 days. The lowest electricity rate is also being extended to small businesses and farms.
Internet Usage Rules Relaxed by Major Telecommunication Companies
Some major telecommunication companies, such as Telus and Shaw, are changing their phone and internet plans and adapting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Shaw website notes that they do not have data caps on their internet plans, allowing you to keep kids entertained and work from home without having to worry about data caps on your internet.
CRA Sets New Deadline to File your 2019 Income Taxes
The CRA has announced that there are new tax filing and payment due dates. The new due date for filing individual tax returns has been extended to June 1st, 2020. Taxpayers will have until September 1st, 2020 to pay any 2019 income tax amounts owed.
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